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Poker Dealer Fighting $75,000 Mandatory Fine After He Admitted To Stealing $200 At Casino

Lawyer For Former Worker Asking State Supreme Court To Intervene

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Sometimes the oneness of the political and business worlds becomes so blatantly offensive. One former poker dealer in Pittsburgh is paying the price for such a system.

After stealing $200 worth of chips and putting them in his tip box, 27-year-old Matthew Eisenberg, a former employee of The Rivers Casino, was caught and charged. He pleaded guilty, but under a Pennsylvania statute designed to protect the casino industry and the state, Eisenberg was hit with the minimum $75,000 fine. The maximum for such a crime is $150,000.

The fact that such a hefty penalty would be imposed upon an individual who stole just $1 from a Pennsylvania casino adds to the obscenity. A lawyer for Eisenberg is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to strike down the fine because it’s “excessive” under the state constitution or “cruel and unusual punishment” under the United States Constitution, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Eisenberg obviously was guilty of misconduct by stealing from the pot (poker players), but does he deserve what could be a financial lynching?

It should be noted that poker dealers usually don’t make very much money per year. It isn’t an excuse for his behavior, but an argument against throwing him into the perils of debt.

Doing so seems to be the mantra of those who are seemingly in favor of harsh consequences for petty crimes against private property. In some sense it’s also similar to the belief that playing online poker can warrant jail time (in the state of Washington) or that running a private card game is deserving of a heavy-handed police raid (multiple states in the country seem to feel this way). Gross over-reactions by law enforcement endorsed by legislatures at the mercy of business interests seem commonplace, and average gamblers unfortunately witness their fair share of this tendency. The Eisenberg case undoubtedly opens up a far-reaching debate spanning many areas of thought, strong indication that something is seriously wrong.

According to Associated Press, the state has maintained since Eisenberg was fined in 2011 that “the fine clearly exists both to punish and deter thefts within casinos.”

For more news and information on what’s happening in Pennsylvania, check its page.

 
 
 
 

Comments

robtr3
8 years ago

I'd tend to agree with the "cruel and unusual punishment" argument. It's petty theft--sentence him accordingly (probation and/or a few months to a year in jail plus he has to make restitution which I'd imagine he already has), and if you want to throw in a REASONABLE sentence enhancement for the theft having been committed while in a position of public trust I wouldn't object to that, either.

 
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bigvert
8 years ago

Even though this penalty/fine is excessive, we have to remember it is there for a reason...as an unbelievably GREAT deterrent - why steal $200 if it could potentially cost you $75K-$150K.

 
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CaptainFink
8 years ago

He didn't steal only $200. He stole $200 the time that he got caught. He could have been doing this over and over.

Plus, he's not stealing from the casino. It sounds like he was robbing the players. Taking money out of the pot and dropping it in his tip box.

I have no problem with him suffering for it.

 
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fastmonkey
8 years ago

He's probably just a product of a misspent youth. We should rehabilitate him and send him to Disney world for a vacation. After all he doesn't get paid very much and stealing is very stressful. Why fine him anything as it sends a very bad message to our criminals in that they aren't appreciated by the very same society that created their harsh environment. Give him a new cell phone and pay his rent for a year and I'm sure he'll agree that he is very sorry about what he did.

 
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ATrainBoston
8 years ago

This man STOLE from poker players, and he corrupted the game. Placing a taint on the game is not something to take lightly, because if average players think a game is rigged or they are being cheated, the game, the industry as a whole, is damaged, and everybody loses. At first thought, I would agree 75k is excessive, but the more I think about it, its not. Let him work it off over time. Remember, in the old west he would have been shot.

And Brian Pempus, why so much sympathy for the crook? His actions damaged everybody. Your analogies where you paint the crook as the victim a la poker players in Washington or poker players raided by police are backwards. This guy is the one who victimized poker players and our game, not the other way around.

 
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answer20
8 years ago

I dont really mind a stiff penalty for this type of an offense. But why have a seperate law for casinos? Isnt this just petty theft/embezzlement and the laws that are in place for everyone else should apply the same.

Need to determine who he stole from, players or casino, and then apply the proper law ... UNLESS he signed an employment agreement that states otherwise.

Hope he wasnt dumb enough to put black chips in his tip box ...

 
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Daniel16
8 years ago

well some of these establishments are Indian Casinos and have there own rules and police (laws).

 
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Daniel16
8 years ago

don't steal! Period. He stole form the people that gave him an opportunity to make a living, eat pay bills etc/ Now this is the punishment for his disloyal disgusting behavior.

 
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peabody
8 years ago

So if someone steals from a small business, that individual is prosecuted using the accepted penalties for that crime but if someone steals the same amount from a casino, he is massively over penalized? Business' that afford expensive lobbiest shouldn't be given special protections under the law in a democratic society.

The argument that he should be heavily penalized because it probably isn't the only time he stole is absurd. People are only prosecuted for things for which there is evidence. Someone who runs a red light shouldn't be penalized for all the other red lights that he hypothetically may have run.

 
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ATrainBoston
8 years ago

He's not just stealing from the casino, he's stealing from the players and damaging the integrity of the game. I have no problem with punishing more severely those who are placed in a position of trust and abuse that trust. I am ok with more severe punishments for a cop who steals $100 using his badge than a shoplifter who steals $100 from a store. I'm ok with a more severe punishment for a casino employee who steals from the players than to a thief who steals from players in a casino, again because the position of trust is abused. This guy was in essence a mini-Lederer and I have no sympathy for him. This story may also deter other dealers from similarly damaging the game.

 
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fastmonkey
8 years ago

Hey Peabrain, you live in CA right? Why would you defend this piece of trash? Off with his head......

 
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peabody
8 years ago

An idiot like you should learn how to read. I didn't say where I was from. And I never defended anyone. I simply said that all institutions should have equal protections in a democratic society. If anyone thinks that the casinos instituted these tougher penalties for the sake of the players he is living in a dream world.

 
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